Monday, June 26, 2006

Scary new project

My husband and I are sort of reading the Doctrine and Covenants together. It was my idea. Unlike the Book of Mormon, I don't have any issues with the D&C. I think I can read it at face value. Reading with my husband may help me to have some insights I might overlook if I were to read it on my own. He respects my ideas, he has my best interests at heart, and I am usually on my best behavior with him. I think those are ingredients for an interesting, perhaps uplifting dialogue.

I probably won't be blogging too much about this. I am going to do some writing, but I will keep it private until I'm either done, or I quit. At least, that's my plan. However, I expect that my thoughts and concerns and inspirations and despirations about reading the Doctrine and Covenants will be varied and disconnected. So, if I feel the need to blog about the project, it will probably be the process rather than the content.

I plan to read hopefully, and with an open mind.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Best and Worst 2006 World Cup Jerseys

Living overseas as a teen, I'll never forget the day my sleepy town's soccer team won a promotion to the country's top league. The whole city was electrified, and my father brought me home two of the team's new jerseys. Thus began my passion for soccer and for soccer jerseys.

Technically, it doesn't matter what you wear when you play soccer, but I find it hard to cheer for a team that has an ugly jersey. I think this holds true not only on the club level but also on the national level. If I am going to buy and wear your replica jersey, the least you can do is not make it hideous.

Obviously, sometimes you are just stuck with a country that has an unfortunate color pattern going. For example, I am a huge fan of the Argentine national team. Unfortunately, light blue and white vertical stripes are not the most aesthetically pleasing combination. That is why I would only purchase and wear the Argentine team's second jersey, which is usually a sharp-looking navy blue.

Since this is the last day of group play in the World Cup, and half of the teams will be going home now, I thought I would round up the best and the worst of this year's team jerseys.

Some generalizations first: if you are a very poor country, or an Islamic country, your jersey will probably be made by Puma (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Angola, Togo, Paraguay, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia). Switzerland, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic buck the trend by also using Puma jerseys. Puma is by far the largest manufacturer at this World Cup, and I think they've done a decent but boring job. I like that all of the jerseys have the same design in the back and lowercase font for the names. The African jerseys are cool because of the nice colors (green and orange for Ivory Coast, yellow and green for Togo). Unfortunately, Poland and Switzerland have basically the same red and white boring jersey. Italy's all-blue outfit is an abomination with it's gold numbers and lettering. Also, I think the Puma jerseys look cheap because they don't seem to absorb any sweat at all. The players look like they've been doused with a bucket of water.

If you're wearing a Nike jersey, you're probably going to the second round (Brazil, the Netherlands, Portugal, Mexico, Australia) (sorry U.S., Korea, and Croatia). Nike's jerseys are always clean and classic. I especially like Portugal's wine and green colored jersey.

Umbro has only two teams, England and Sweden, and they decided to stitch into the shoulder seams an awful-looking St. George's and Scandinavian cross respectively. Umbro is usually a quality manufacturer; I don't know what got into them this year. England's second jersey is solid red and thankfully doesn't have the cross in the shoulder seam, but it does have reflective gold numbers on the back. I think Umbro really dropped the ball.

My wife commented favorably on Lotto's Serbian and Ukrainian kits. I don't like the asterisk pattern, but I have to admit that these are the only jerseys that take advantage of the shorts.

Adidas runs the gamut this year, in my opinion: from boring (Germany) to sublime (Trinidad & Tobago) to classic (Japan, Argentina) to awful (France and Spain). The new Darth Vader collars are really ugly too.

The two dark horses are Costa Rica sporting an amateurish jersey by Joma, and Ecuador with an even worse jersey by Marathon. It looks like a jungle cat has scratched the Ecuadorian national colors into the middle of the jersey.

Best Jersey: Trinidad and Tobago. Classic and simple with bold piping, and I love the asymmetry of the design around the neck.

Worst Jersey: (tie) Ecuador and Italy.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Prayerfully

The other day, I read one of my husband’s secret priesthood papers. I was looking for a phone number I had thrown away, and found the priesthood paper in the process. Hey, if he doesn’t want me reading his secret priesthood stuff, he shouldn’t throw it in the trash can in the same office where I work all day.

It wasn’t anything super secret, like home teaching reports or the official 2006 high priests’ chant. It contained some guidelines and instructions. A word that was used repeatedly in the text was “prayerfully.”

My prayers of late have been pretty perfunctory. Not thoughtless, but certainly not heartfelt. The emphasis on prayerfully and lovingly following the guidelines in the secret priesthood document struck me as quite a contrast to how I’ve actually been praying. I haven’t even been praying prayerfully, let alone pursuing any of my other activities that way.

Since reading the guidelines, I have been trying a little harder to be more intent with my prayers. I visualize myself reaching up with my prayers, like the evangelicals do with their hands during their praise music, except with my heart. I think it helps. If nothing else, it helps me to feel like I’m not talking to myself.

However, I wonder what other things besides praying I ought to pursue prayerfully, if any. The agnostic thing is a real obstacle. Praying is usually an end to itself, not an approach to another task. I’m a pretty secular person; I would find it awkward to ask God to bless or direct things as I do them.

Maybe a good place to start would be with my Mormon stuff. Most of my Mormon stuff is on the internet now. Maybe I could approach my Mormon internet stuff prayerfully.

Do any bloggers out there blog prayerfully?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Goooooooooooooooool!

My goal this year was to watch 56 games of the World Cup. (There are 64 games in total, but on the last four days of group play, FIFA schedules the games simultaneously to avoid having meaningless games.)

Four years ago, I had just moved to a new city and was unemployed for the entire month of June. I probably watched two-thirds of the World Cup matches from South Korea and Japan, even though I had to set my alarm to wake up for most of them.

So, as the 2006 World Cup approached, I seriously considered taking the month of June off from temping and dedicating myself to the circular deity of football. However, I am in a pretty good temp situation, and I can't really afford to take the whole month off. So I am doing the next best thing, and Tivo-ing all 56 matches. I don't have enough time to watch 4.5 hours of soccer after work each day, but I can watch at least one game a day (and all the games on the weekends) and fast-forward to the good parts in the others. Also, I watch an hour of soccer during my lunch-break at work due to a projection TV in the lunchroom (I told you it was a good temp situation).

Anyway, these are my World Cup thoughts so far:

It's about time we abandon this silly notion of "own goals." I think an own goal should only be termed as such when a player directs the ball into his own net. When the ball glances off a defender and into the goal, it doesn't make a lot of sense to call it an own goal. Sure, it takes some responsibility off the goalkeeper, but I can't think of any other advantages of our current system. It's ridiculous to credit Beckham's thunderous strike against Paraguay to the defender who barely touched it.

Speaking of the England-Paraguay match, it was not fun game to watch. First of all, the Jumbotron and it's spidery supports threw all kinds of horrible shadows on the field. They should really only be allowed to play night games at that Frankfurt stadium. There are billions of people watching on TV, as opposed to the sixty-thousand people who can see that stupid Jumbotron. Let's have some perspective here.

Secondly, the game was unbearably boring. England looked painfully stiff, and Paraguay played just awful. Comparatively, the Argentina-Ivory Coast match was a beauty to watch. I was pessimistic about the Argies since they always seem to choke, but despite some suspect defending, they look good.

My final complaint is about the American broadcast announcers. Are there any worse announcers than Dave O'Brien and Marcelo Balboa? They sound like they aren't even watching the game and continually call players by the wrong names. Dave O'Brien is a BASEBALL announcer. And just because former baseball players make good color commentators, it doesn't mean you should dig up some player from America's soccer wilderness years and give him a microphone. I can't believe this is ABC's "A" team. That means these idiots will be calling the final. Embarrassing. Especially since ABC has two great announcers who would make a superb team, JP Dellacamera and Tommy Smyth. I'd watch Nascar as long as Tommy Smyth was calling the action. He makes every punch in the onion bag exciting. There plenty of qualified soccer announcers; why are you giving us amateur hour, ABC? Shameful.

11 games down, 45 to go. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Tivo full of soccer to watch.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Reasons to stay

My list of reasons to stay waxes and wanes. It's been waning lately. It was pretty much down to one thing:

1. I love my husband, and I think he would like me to go to church with him.

However, today, another reason appeared:

2. In support of D. Fletcher, who has every reason to leave, and yet, stays.

Life is really complicated.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Nice people don't make Mormonism true, but they don't hurt either

I was sitting at home this evening, reading blogs and waiting for my wife to come home from work when the doorbell rang.

Since I haven't ordered anything lately from Amazon.com, I knew it was the Church. Which should tell you something about the state of our social life, but that's not the point.

It's been almost ten months since I moved and they finally tracked me down. I suspect my parents were involved, but who really knows? Maybe some data-mining retiree on a second mission for the church finally turned up my postal forwarding order.

I actually recognized the two men standing on my doorstep. When I went to church twice last fall, I only talked to three people, and now two-thirds of them were here. So when they asked if they could come in, I felt like it would have been rude not to let them. After all, I had come to church of my own free will just a couple months ago, it would have been weird to say that now I didn't want any contact.

Both of the guys were very nice and we only talked about our families, sports, and home maintenance. It reminded me that I don't really have local friends or a social network since I moved. I don't know any of my neighbors and I don't have the opportunity to meet new people besides at work.

For perhaps the first time in my life, I felt comfortable around my would-be reactivators. I think it was because I knew that the possibility of me regaining my belief is zero. But that doesn't mean that I can't be social with people who still do believe. There is no reason people with a lot in common can't be friends without any religious overtones.

I realize that part of my ease comes from the fact that I know my wife is an unlikely candidate for Mormonism and my children are still safely ensconced in the future (hopefully). The dynamic changes completely when other family members are involved. But for now, I feel good about our interaction. The only time they even broached religion was to ask me if I wanted home teachers or if I wanted to be informed of ward activities (I swiftly nixed both ideas). I told them that I was completely uninterested in anything religious.

It's kind of nice when church recedes into its proper place (in my opinion) in your life. How much unhappiness could we avoid by just treating church like any other social society? As Ann says, it's just church. It's only taken me 29 years to finally believe it.

How out of the loop am I?

Last night, I was leaving the pool/club after water aerobics. I saw a guy who smiled and nodded.

I stopped. "How do I know you?" I asked.

He look surprised. "Uh, from CHURCH."

"Oops."

I have no clue what's going on in the ward. I don't know who well over half the people are.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

in case your still not sick of talking about SSM

i don't understand why the brethren are so hung up on the whole SSM issue. growing up in the church it was quite obvious that a temple marriage was the only kind of marriage that mattered in jesus' eyes, so i can't understand why it is so important that we try to clarify the definition of a civil marriage. whether or not gays are allowed to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage really has no bearing on what kinds of marriages the church can choose to perform and sanctify within the walls of the temples. just watch the expression on a mormon's face the next time someone talks about a young mormon couple having a civil ceremony and you'll see just how high of a regard the average member has for non-temple, civil marriages.

to me it's largely a legal issue. is there any good reason why same sex couples shouldn't be allowed to file taxes jointly, be assigned social security death benefits if their spouse dies, or be denied any of the other privileges given to married hetero couples? to me that's all it really boils down to.

i don't buy the argument that by legally recognizing SSM will somehow undermine "traditional" marriages. it's like kinky friedman says, "i support gay marriage. i believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us."